Today is Women’s Day and we have taken a moment to reflect on how we, at Akshaya Patra, work to support the young girls and women of India. Equal opportunity in employment or sustenance, regardless of gender, has always been a core value of Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme. The Foundation has worked to support women in three major ways.
Feeding the girl child – In many parts of India, the girl child is still considered a burden on the household. While sons are encouraged to study (if income permits it), often the girls have to stay at home to help with household chores or look after their younger siblings. But with Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme parents gladly send their daughters to school too since it gives them one less mouth to feed for the day. Through this programme all children – both boys and girls – get the benefit of regular healthy food, and education too.
Permanent employment – Akshaya Patra offers equal opportunities to both men and women in the kitchens. The Foundation employs nearly 800 women in the centralised kitchens across India, and over 1400 women in the decentralised kitchens run in Baran and Nayagarh. These decentralised kitchens are run by women Self-Help Groups in the region. The employment of women not only provides the women and their families with economic independence, it also boosts their self-esteem and local standing. They serve as role models to other young girls encouraging them to study hard and earn a good living.
Support at Anganwadis – Akshaya Patra serves food to infants, pregnant women and lactating mothers at local Anganwadis. This is to ensure that at this time of their lives where adequate nutrition is vital, Akshaya Patra provides them with all the support they require.
This is our way of ensuring we celebrate women, not only on one day, but all year round. Help us give more education and employment to the young girls and ladies of India.